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Ruskin College Archive Destruction

GUEST,Fred McCormick 24 Oct 12 - 10:44 AM
Bernard 24 Oct 12 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,999 24 Oct 12 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 24 Oct 12 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,sturgeon 24 Oct 12 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,999 24 Oct 12 - 04:16 PM
peregrina 24 Oct 12 - 04:20 PM
Mark Ross 24 Oct 12 - 06:15 PM
Elmore 24 Oct 12 - 06:41 PM
Ross Campbell 24 Oct 12 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,999 24 Oct 12 - 10:23 PM
ChanteyLass 24 Oct 12 - 10:39 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 25 Oct 12 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 25 Oct 12 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 25 Oct 12 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 25 Oct 12 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 25 Oct 12 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Raggytash 25 Oct 12 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 25 Oct 12 - 10:13 AM
Ross Campbell 25 Oct 12 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 25 Oct 12 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,999 25 Oct 12 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,sturgeon 25 Oct 12 - 02:21 PM
ChrisJBrady 25 Oct 12 - 09:18 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Oct 12 - 09:56 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Oct 12 - 01:16 AM
GUEST,BobL 26 Oct 12 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 26 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM
Rapparee 26 Oct 12 - 09:28 AM
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Subject: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:44 AM

I've just received news that Ruskin College, Oxford University is currently destroying all its hard copy archives. This in itself is serious enough, especially as Ruskin was established specifically to give working class people a chance at a decent education. Therefore their archive is of immense importance to social and working class historians etc.

However, the MacColl/Seeger collection, an unparalled assemblage of field recordings and hard copy materials is held by Ruskin, and is of particular interest to people on Mudcat.

I am currently trying to find out whether the MacColl/Seeger materials are to be included in the destruction and will keep 'catters posted.

In the meantime, there is an on-line petition which I urge people to sign. It is here .


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Bernard
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:52 AM

I would have thought that they had everything digitally archived, but simply destroying the hard copies seems senseless - think of all the money they could raise by auctioning them... that way they'd clear the space they need and nothing would need to be destroyed.

Okay, it may cost time and money to set up the auction, but it should be comparable to the time and money pent destroying stuff...


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:58 AM

Just signed. Hope it helps.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 03:12 PM

A university librarian posted this message on another discussion list. Worth considering....
Derek

I always wonder when I see these stories about archives being destroyed.

In fact what seems to be happening is that much of the archive has been/is being digitised. Here is an announcement from Ruskin College:
http://www.ruskin.ac.uk/news/2012/10/10/Ruskin_Cherishes_its_Archives


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,sturgeon
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 03:35 PM

Fred McCormick should check his sources before posting scare-mongering messages here.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 04:16 PM

Perhaps the words of a former dean would be of benefit, sturgeon.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: peregrina
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 04:20 PM

Digital records are actually far, far more vulnerable than paper copies. How often have you suffered digital data loss? How many storage media do you have for which suitable machines are now extinct? Large archives depend on large computers and constant data migration and they too are vulnerable.

Originals may also have information for researchers that will not be available in a photo.

Finally, donors should have been offered the chance to retrieve their paper files and deposit them in a location where they will be preserved according to the specifications of the gift.

I am sure many librarians and archivists as well as researchers will regard this as a rash decision. This is an untested experiment.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Mark Ross
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 06:15 PM

Getting rid of the hard copies is foolish, short sighted, and probably could be considered as an act of class warfare.

"The older the technology, the longer it lasts, consider carved in stone." Utah Phillips



Have signed the petition.
Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Elmore
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 06:41 PM

Signed the petition. As a registered luddite I don't fully trust high tech. Can you tell by my typing?


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 08:59 PM

Perhaps some of you should consider researching a subject before commenting or signing any nugatory petitions. Here is a clicky for Derek Schofield's link above -
http://www.ruskin.ac.uk/news/2012/10/10/Ruskin_Cherishes_its_Archives

And if you can't be bothered with that, here's the text :-

"Ruskin Cherishes its Archives

10 Oct, 12

The story that has blown up around Ruskin's historic archives began with a piece in History Workshop Online. This contained unfounded assertions that there was wholesale destruction and discarding of Ruskin's historic archives and memorabilia. These allegations were spread far and wide through social media, a media release and so on. The truth is that we have actually expended a great deal of money, time and care on moving the College heritage and the MacColl Seeger archive into specially designed space in a new, enlarged library and other appropriate places around the College. The miners' strike banner, for example, that it was alleged had gone missing, had its own vehicle, with two teams working together to move and hang it so that it would not be damaged. The Bowerman plaque, also specifically mentioned, is on loan to the Marx Memorial Library. The one thing we have done is to digitise the demographic and course-related information from our student records in an interactive database, in a way that complies with data protection legislation but which will allow our alumni to stay in touch with us and with one another. We are now established in a consolidated and beautifully redeveloped site at Ruskin Hall in Old Headington, Oxford OX3 9BZ. All are welcome at our grand opening on Saturday 27th October 2012. The word that most needs to be spread is that Ruskin offers life-changing educational opportunities to those with few or no qualifications: with courses from Entry Level to Level 7, we have something for everyone. If, reading this, you know anyone who hasn't been able to complete their education or reach their true potential, then please do put them in touch with us."

Ross


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:23 PM

http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/thoughts-questions-of-a-ruskin-graduate-on-the-college-archives/

Ross, serious question: was Hilda Kean's address to this matter erroneous?


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 24 Oct 12 - 10:39 PM

Signed. Whether or not it is true, in whole or in part, I want my signature on record.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 03:43 AM

Just for the record Ruskin College is not nor has it ever been a part of Oxford University. I am an Alumni of the college.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 05:40 AM

GUEST,sturgeon. It might be helpful if you were a little less rude. I'm not an archivist and I'm not scaremongering, but even I know the importance of retaining hard copy originals. EG., how do you check the age of a document once it's been digitised and the original thrown away?

By the same token, how reliable do you think digital media is? Yes, I know all about making backups, but I remember once losing a lot of data through a corrupted hard disk. I thought I had no problem until I checked the backup and found that whatever had corrupted the orginal files had corrupted the backups as well.

And have you ever noticed the rapidity with which software keeps changing? Yes, Ruskin College has doubtless got all the state of the art equipment it needs to read these documents. But what happens at some indeterminate date in the future when someone needs to research them and finds that they can't be read because the equipment upon which they were digitised has become obsolete and replaced?

If you think that's fanciful, the library has a large number of LP records which were donated to them by Peggy Seeger. The last time I looked (which admittedly was sometime ago), they couldn't be played because the library didn't have a turntable!

So whether the stuff has been digitised or not is not the issue. They wouldn't computerise Mappa Mundi and then throw the original to the wolves. Surely the lives and thoughts and feelings of ordinary people are no less important.

Raggytash. Thanks for pointing that out. God knows, I've used Ruskin library often enough in the past.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 07:33 AM

Some years ago I was tasked by the company I worked for to look into the retention of our archives, some 105,000 archive boxes all over the country stored in many diverse places, some were even stored in an old mushroom farm.
During the course of the project I had numerous detailed meetings with a major company (Kodak) to consider placing all the documents on CD. I had to esnure that the archives would still be available 80 years after storage.
Kodak, at that time, could not guarantee that we would still be able to access material after 8o years, due in some part to the transfer of information from one media to another, in some part to changing technical changes to equipment. (as a case in point do you remember 5 1/2" floppy discs, anyone got equipment to read them)
I found after many dicussions that the only way material could be stored with any hope of maintaining them in a way that could easily be retrieved was to put the infomation onto Microfiche.
Surprisingly this had been tested and estimates reckoned that it would last for up to 500 years.
I do understand the need to cut down on space allocated to archives and the tremendous costs involved in maintaining them but also understand we cannot afford to lose information about the past. (I am currently putting all my Grandmother's recipes onto my computer, I might even publish them)
Perhaps an alternative organisation could be found the take the archives although I would think that Ruskin College would have followed every possible outcome and would not destroy their archive material if it contained valuble information.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 07:48 AM

5 1/2" floppy disks?. Didn't they supersede the Edison cylinder?

Sorry to sound facetious but that exactly encapuslates the problem. Technology is changing at such a rapid rate that it's impossible to gauge how long digital copies, in whatever format they're genereated, will remain readable.

Re., Microfiche. You're probably right about the durability. However, I once had to read an entire thesis from microfiche. The experience nearly drove me mad.

The other point to bear in mind is that, with handwritten materials especially, it may be much more difficult to decipher digitised copies than the orginals.

I agree that Ruskin will not have entered on this lightly, and it's probably their response to a funding cut. But that doesn't make the deed any less reprehensible.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 08:00 AM

The following is taken from the college website which may allay fears


http://www.ruskin.ac.uk/news

There are two articles dated 10th and 23rd of October relating to this matter


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 08:01 AM

Sorry that should have read 10th & 21st October


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 10:13 AM

I'm not sure what the relevance of the two articles Raggytash refers to is. The first has been mentioned twice already and the second seems to be concerned entirely with the implications of the Data Protection. (That's unless I've missed something. Time being what it is, I've only speedread that one. So if there is anything else, my apologies.)

Reading between the lines however, it looks as though the MacColl/Seeger archive is safe. That was the main reason for my starting this thread, and the reason why I put it above the line, rather than in BS. In any event, I'll be seeing Peggy in a few weeks time, so I'll be able to check the situation with her direct. BTW. I've been trying to contact the library for two days and have been unable to get through, due to a fault on the line.

As a counter to those two articles, David Horsfield , who is the former librarian at Ruskin has written a rejoinder in support of Hilda Kean's argument. It is well worth reading.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 01:02 PM

Fair enough, 999, I missed that. I would agree with the former dean that the data on former students and the links between Ruskin College and past, present and future leaders would undoubtedly have been of interest to future historians, and regret that they appear to have gone. It's also regrettable that staff in charge of such material should still have the attitudes described. But the items listed by Fred in the OP do not appear ever to have been at risk of such destruction.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 01:02 PM

Peggy will be at Ruskin on Saturday when they officially open the "new" site at Headington, I think she is performing during the ceremony on Saturday night. I recall David from my days at Ruskin and would welcome his greater imput as to what has and what has not been disposed of.
Taking into consideration the nature of Ruskin as a Political College I wonder how much "politics" are in play in the various accounts that have been published.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 01:23 PM

It wasn't a criticism, Ross. I meant no offence. Sometimes various on-line petitions do present an unbalanced picture of things and I was beginning to wonder if I'd got it wrong. Anyway, thanks for your understanding.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,sturgeon
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 02:21 PM

I wasn't being rude, Fred, just wanted you to get your facts straight rather than your knickers in a twist as you did over Elisabeth Cronin.

How's your friend Owen Woodson?


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Subject: Folklore: Save the Archives at Ruskin College
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 09:18 PM

As Ruskin College, Oxford (UK), moves to the outskirts of the city, its leadership has sanctioned the destruction of its archives, many of which contain records of Ruskin's first students. Those students included members of the working class, whose stories, if they are lost, may never be recoverable. 

If You clearly think that the preservation of Ruskin's archives is vitally important. To ask your friends to join the cause, you can use our tell-a-friend tool, post the petition on Facebook, or Tweet it. Or, if you're short on time, you can copy and send the sample message we've written below:

Chris B.

P.S. It is known that Ruskin Library also holds considerable material from Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. The destruction and loss of that would be a tragedy.

====

Hey, 

I signed a petition to save the unique and irreplaceable archives at Ruskin College, Oxford. Will you sign, too?

http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AG72Q/zM78/YV1m

Ruskin College, which has been a part of Oxford since 1899, is now in danger of losing most of its unique archives, most of which can never be replaced. These archives, which include accounts of Ruskin's first students, are valuable insights into England's history.

In this digital age, it's sometimes hard to remember that just a few decades ago, the entirety of our history was recorded solely on hard copy. But just because we have the capability to have digital information doesn't mean that we should forget the value of what came before.

Will you join me in signing the petition to save Ruskin's archives?

Name: .....

====


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 09:56 PM

Don't you Brits have anything / something   like the USA "WayBackMachine" aka (Library of Congress - Archive)?

oopps...forgot...you have a VAT base...and there is no value to folk.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

... chit mon....alt.rec.homebrew.dos2.3...is even archieved .


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 01:16 AM

At the university library where I work I documented the process of taking a hard-cover book and turning it into a PDF file. The librarian cuts it out of its cover (an exacto blade to the paper hinge between the hard cover and the bound "signatures") and then with a large sharp guillotine sort of blade chops off the stitched side of the book guts. It is fed into a powerful scanner that flips pages to get both sides. When the scan is complete, the book is wrapped with a special kind of four-way library rubberband and sent out to the printer to have it re-bound. Perfect binding this time.

To outside viewers, it is quite a violent process.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,BobL
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 04:52 AM

"The central article of faith in museum life is a belief in the primacy of original objects" (see here for the rest of the article). No museum or library is going to get rid of original material.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM

sturgeon. I have no idea what you are talking about, or why you are hiding behind such a spewdonym (misspelling intended!), or why you accuse me of scaremongering, or why you have chosen to resurrect a controversy which is over a dozen years old, and is totally irrelevant to the matter under discussion.

However, if you are going to drag this particular controversy into it, you might at least try and spell the woman's name properly. It was Elizabeth with a Z.

And if you think I'm being rude, you are absolutely bloody right.


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Subject: RE: Ruskin College Archive Destruction
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Oct 12 - 09:28 AM

No. ALWAYS keep the originals. Digitize them, yes, but keep the originals.

I say this as someone who was a professional librarian (and part-time archivist) for better than 40 years.

In fact, it would be well if everything on stored floppy discs, etc. were to be printed out. Magnetic data has a way of erasing itself over time.

"Perfect binding", Stilly? You mean that stuff that cracks and then the pages fall out? The process that substitutes glue for real binding? Tsk, tsk.


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